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The Timberclads in the Civil War

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Problem URL. When a large number of fresh Confederate troops threatened Grant's men, well directed fire of grape and canister from Lexington and Tyler scattered the Southern reinforcements enabling the Union soldiers to reach safety on their transports. Although the operation was originally planned as a joint expedition, heavy rains for 2 days before the attack delayed troop movements so the gunboats attacked alone 6 February Accurate fire from the gunboats pounded the fort and forced Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman , CSA, with all but four of his defending guns useless, to strike his flag.

In continuing operations the three days following the capitulation of Fort Henry, Tyler , Conestoga and Lexington swept the Tennessee for Confederate transports, seized the unfinished steamer Eastport , and destroyed a railroad bridge spanning the river. After repairs Lexington rejoined Tyler protecting army transports and supporting troop movements along the Tennessee River.

The Timberclads in the Civil War : The Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler on the Western Waters

They landed a party of sailors and army sharpshooters to reconnoiter Confederate strength in the area. They then moved further upstream and engaged a Confederate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama , on the 12th. Later in the month they steamed upstream to Eastport, Mississippi , where they exchanged fire with Southern artillery. The capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson opened serious breaches in the Confederancy's outer defense line which Grant was quick to exploit.

Southern troops commanded by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston , made a major effort to stem his advance in the Battle of Shiloh and came close to overwhelming the Union troops. At this juncture his gunboats dropped down the river, near the landing where his troops were collected, and opened a tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank, in the direction from where our forces were approaching. After the day was over, the Lexington and Tyler spent the night bombarding the Confederate army, which had settled down in Union camps they had captured early in the morning assault.

Firing into the darkness, the gunboats caused few casualties, but they did prevent many Confederate soldiers from getting any sleep. Lexington continued to support army operations in the Tennessee River until steaming down the Mississippi with Conestoga , St. While the Union gunboats, were capturing St.

Charles, Arkansas , 17 June a direct hit exploded Mound City ' s steam drum scalding many of her men. The gunboat then returned to the Mississippi to protect army transports from guerilla bands which attacked from the river banks. Lexington , which transferred to the navy with the other ships of the Western Flotilla on 1 October , participated in the joint expedition up the Yazoo River to attack Vicksburg, Mississippi from the rear.

War on the Water: Jack of All Trades

On 27 December, while clearing mines from the river, the Union gunboats fought off heavy attacks by Confederate batteries. The next day they provided cover fire for General Sherman 's troops during an attack on Confederate-held Chickasaw Bayou. The squadron covered the landing of troops on the 9th by shelling Confederate rifle pits. When the Union troops charged the position on the 11th, the gunboats resumed their well-directed fire and silenced every southern gun.

After this defeat the Confederates evacuated other positions on the White and Saint Charles rivers. Meanwhile Confederate raiders were threatening to wrest control of the Cumberland Valley from the Union. The joint army-navy cooperation kept the upper rivers open to the Union and prevented an effective Confederate counteroffensive. Frequently fighting off attacks from Southern snipers and flying batteries, Lexington escorted transports and destroyed Confederate positions along the banks.

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On 3 February with five other ships she helped repulse a Confederate attempt to retake Fort Donelson. NOOK Book. In the most detailed history ever of Union warships on the western waters of the Civil War, the author recounts the exploits of the timberclad ships Lexington , Tyler , and Conestoga.

References

The book focuses on the activities of these wooden warriors while providing context for the greater war, including accounts of their famous commanders, their roles in both large and small battles, ship-to-ship combat, and support for the armies of Gen. Grant and Gen. William T. Smith, Jr. Franklin Cooling 1 Preface 5 List of Abbreviations 9 1. Rivers and Rebellion, January—April 11 2.

Columbus-Belmont, October 10—November 9, 6. Skirmishing and Fleet Building, November—December 7.